Laugh. Then think.Posted: October 2, 2009
This has turned out to be a busy day for posting on this blog! There’s one more thing that needs to be remarked on though – this years Ig Nobel prize winners were announced today by the Annals of Improbable Research. These awards, for those that don’t know, are counterparts to the official Nobel prizes; their aim is to reward “…research that makes people laugh and then think”.
Notable amongst this years recipients are Katherine Whitcombe et al. who received the physics award for discovering why pregnant women don’t tip over (their spines change shape to move their centre of mass) and Javier Morales and others from the University of Mexico who created diamonds from tequila (apparently this is important if you want to make semiconductors from diamonds instead of silicon but also must come in handy for parties!) Of course in a crisis most people would rather be in the same room as Elena Bodnar and her team who’ve invented a bra which if necessary can be turned into two gas masks – one for you and one for a friend.
My favorite winner was Theodre Gray in 2002 who got the chemistry prize for building an actual table out of many elements in the periodic table – a true periodic table table. C. Moeliker from 2003 comes a close second though with his observations of “the first recorded case of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck”! The dead duck in question was apparently fleeing from an attempted rape when it collided with a wall and the pursuing duck moved in… The full paper can still be found here. It makes an
interesting, if somewhat disturbing, read.
Whitcome, K., Shapiro, L., & Lieberman, D. (2007). Fetal load and the evolution of lumbar lordosis in bipedal hominins Nature, 450 (7172), 1075-1078 DOI: 10.1038/nature06342
Javier Morales, Miguel Apátiga, & Victor M. Castaño (2008). Growth of Diamond Films from Tequila arXiv preprint arXiv: 0806.1485v1